i made my song a coat

I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat                                                                                             – William Butler Yeats

The word shame is from Skem, from kem, meaning ‘to cover’. We say, he was covered in shame. Shame is universally experienced and one of the most powerful forces in the human world. The lengths to which people will go to avoid it go a long way toward explaining the strange and bloody tale of history. Shame has been a primary means of social control in all cultures. And that’s not only a bad thing. I wish with all of my heart that the thieves and liars who run the world had more – much more – sense of shame. The fact is, they probably do, but it has been applied toward acceptance by morally deviant groups. They are ashamed of their yachts being too small, their IPOs less than obscene, their armies not cruel enough. Shame, like myth, is a social tool deeply embedded in the individual. What it is directed toward is culturally agreed upon. The individual Masters of the Universe seem to have too much shame or not enough. Many of these guys truly are sociopaths, but the others are covering the covering, compensating for shame and it is not necessarily apparent which is which. Compensation for being shamed, ashamed, afraid about something more personal can look very aggressive. The deepest shames often seem to be about our bodies, our families, usually things we have no control over. Shame for in some way not being beautiful or strong enough.

There is shame for every failure, it thrusts us out away from the presence of others, the hope for the warmth of others. Shame is hot then cold, a shiver of isolation. But covered in shame, in that cocoon of isolation, a chance arises. The heat of shame can melt what has grown old. In a softened state, metamorphosis is possible. Acceptance of what has happened can lower us to the floor of our being from which we can grow anew.

I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.

– William Butler Yeats

This talk by Brene Brown is well worth the time:

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